Oklahoma State Basketball: Cowboys face daunting challenge against undefeated Baylor

After an 82-79 loss to the Texas Longhorns, the Oklahoma State basketball team faces their most daunting challenge of the season against no. 2 Baylor.

The Oklahoma State basketball team travels to Waco, TX, today to face the no. 2 Baylor Bears at 6 p.m. CST. It’s the toughest test the Cowboys faced so far. Impressive considering they lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational earlier in the season.

Baylor can move to no. 1 in the country for the first time in program history with a victory over OK State. Motivation levels are high for both teams. OK State looks for their first conference victory of the season at 10-4 (0-2 Big 12), with conference losses to the Texas Longhorns and West Virginia Mountaineers. Meanwhile, BU is 14-0 (2-0 Big 12) with conference wins over the Iowa State Cyclones and Oklahoma Sooners.

Now let’s look at key players and x-factors for both teams in this game.

Baylor Bears

Senior forward Johnathan Motley leads the Bears in rebounds and scoring. He averages 16.0 points per game on 52.9 percent shooting along with 9.3 rebounds per game. Junior guard Manu Lecomte is third on the team in scoring, second in steals, and leads the team in assists. He averages 11.4 points per game, 5.1 assists, and 1.2 steals.

The Bears need to focus more on OK State than achieving their first no. 1 ranking in Baylor men’s basketball history. Looking ahead could cost them a victory. The Bears are favored by 11.5 points.

OK State looks more turnover prone than they did during the regular season. Baylor attacks the glass hard and draws steals just from their athletic ability as a team. The Cowboys’ sophomore point guard Jawun Evans turned the ball over five times in each of their first two conference games. Drawing turnovers takes away valuable possessions from the OK State offense leading to more chances for Baylor.

More than anything, Baylor needs to do what they do best, rebounding the ball. The Bears out-rebounded OU by 19 boards. That devastating statistic largely displays why the Sooners lost by 26 points. Sticking to their game by dominating the glass is the biggest key to victory for Baylor.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Conference play did not get off to the way head coach Brad Underwood hoped. OK State lost their first two games including an upset loss at the hands of UT and a 92-75 thrashing by WVU. Starting 0-3 in Big 12 play gives Pokes fans deja vu from last season in which the Cowboys went 3-15 in conference play.

Senior shooting guard Phil Forte needs to play better after shooting just 2-12 from the field against the Horns. When Forte’s on, he and Evans form one of the most lethal backcourts in the conference. Yet, another lacking performance could cost the Cowboys another Big 12 victory.

Junior forward Jeffrey Carroll is the unsung hero of the Cowboys’ rotation. He scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds against UT. Moreover, Carroll sits only behind Evans for second on the team in scoring this season. Yet, the Cowboys might need him more to hit the glass than to put up points against Baylor.

Freshman center Lucas N’Guessan and forward Mitchell Solomon have a big task ahead of them in the paint against Baylor. N’Guessan and Solomon got themselves into foul trouble against UT. OK State needs their two big men in the paint to not lose too many rebounds to BU.

Prediction
Baylor 78, Oklahoma State 65

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